Theories for Unit 4 Sociology

All the theories for unit 4 - Functionalism. New Right, Marxism, Feminism, Social Action and Postmodernism all with evaluation and analysis!

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Functionalism is a consensus view of society and has a macro approach. It is believed that society is split into
many social institutions such as the government, religion, family, education and health. If one of the institutions
does not function properly, other institutions may also not function as well. In other words, if a specific part of
society breaks down, all the other parts of society will break down. The institutions of society must work together
in order to create and maintain stability, productivity and a harmonious society.
Social Order ­ Functionalists believe that there are four basic needs than an individual requires. They are food,
shelter, money and clothing.
Without shared norms, values, meanings and beliefs, social order would not be achievable.
During the first half of the 20th Century, Functionalism was the main perspective of Sociology.
Social Structure ­ consists of norms and values passed on through individuals which shape the individual.
Emile Durkheim
He believed that sociology should be the study of social law such as money, law and language. Social facts are
objective. This means that the facts are not based on emotion. If something is objective, it can be measured.
Durkheim believed that harmony defined society.
Durkheim identified two main concerns in his social research. The first one is that he wanted to ensure that
modern societies were in order and harmonious. The second one is that he wanted to create a science of
society so that there is clear knowledge about bringing in social order.
Durkheim's concept of social facts explained how individual's actions can be shaped wider patterns of
Durkheim believed that a social structure existed. The structure that has the norms and values do come before
us. When we are born, the norms and values already existed and we are born into these norms and values of
society. People's behaviour was shaped by the social system consisting of the norms and values.
Talcott Parsons
Four Subsystems (as outlined in the introduction)
Parsons identified three similarities between society and an organism (living thing.)
Society is a functional unit.
People have the ability to make decisions.
Core values and norms create social integration.
System needs ­ Organisms have needs that must be met in order to survive.
His view of society is that it is made up of interlinked systems and prerequisites. Parsons suggests that the systems
are interlinked with each other.
Personality System ­ concerned with person's beliefs, goals and values that are internalised (take in part of
someone's attitudes or beliefs.
Social System ­ Institutionalised (placed in a specific institution)
Cultural System ­ Core Values and Shared History helps to construct society.
Functional Prerequisites
Adaptation ­ Social systems should be adapted to its environment. A system must exist where food and shelter is
obtained. This may involve hunting and gathering. The economic institution should be used for this prerequisite.
Goal Attainment ­ Societies should set goals towards activities directed by institutions and members. There has to
be a legitimate use of power through leadership and direction. The government should be used for this
Integration ­ Societies should work with peer groups, the police and the family so that there is control in the

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Pattern maintenance ­ In order to maintain a pattern, core values should be reinforced and we should be
constantly socialised. The family, media, religion and education are vital for the socialisation process because
values, meanings and norms are shared within these institutions.
One strength of the Functionalist argument is that it is evident in the real world. When one of the subsystems
breaks down, it collapses and becomes dysfunctional resulting in anomie a state of chaos.…read more

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Analysis for Functionalism and New Right
New Right and Functionalists both agree that the family helps society to function. However, the difference is that
New Right argue that single parent families should not exist, nor the generous benefits as this stops roles in the
Marxists and Functionalists argue that society operates exactly the same way as the human body. The human
body has organs that help the body to function.…read more

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Coercion (to force to act to think in a certain way through pressure or threat): public services such as the police,
the army, and other areas such as prison and courts force other classes such as the ruling class to accept that they
are ruling them.
Consent (hegemony): the bourgeoisie use ideas and values to persuade the lower classes that their rule is
The leadership of the ruling class is not complete because of the following reasons:
1.…read more

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Preciariat/Precarious Proletariat ­ Poorest, Most
Deprived Class.
Ignores importance of other social institutions.
E.G. Religion.
Similarities and Differences
One difference between the Functionalist perspective and the Marxist perspective is that the Functionalists say
that society is split into subsystems whereas the Marxists argue that society is split into two classes. These
theories have different approaches in terms of how society works.
Marxists and Functionalists argue that society operates exactly the same way as the human body.…read more

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The key concept of radical feminism is PATRIARCHY (Male Domination).
Women's main role is to bare and care for infants, since performing this role means they become more
dependent on males.
Patriarchy is the basic form of social inequality and conflict. Men are the main enemy to women.
All men oppress all women - Men benefit from patriarchy, especially when women are doing domestic labour that
is unpaid.
Sexual Politics (relations between male and female) - All relationships involve power.…read more

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Functionalism and Feminism both argue that characteristics create society but have different approaches in this.
Functionalists argue that society is characterised by harmony and stability in order for society to function
whereas feminists argue that society is characterised by men and women and therefore society is patriarchal
and men are in control.
Feminists and Functionalists also do not agree together in terms of value consensus. Feminists argue that the
values are imposed on women.
Feminism believes that women are exploited at home and work.…read more

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Our actions are based on meanings we give to people or situations. It is not an automatic response to
- These meanings come from interaction.
- The meanings we give to situations are mainly the result of taking the role of the other. This means interpreting
other people's meanings by taking their role. For example, putting ourselves in the individuals' position.…read more

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Enlightment Project ­ this refers to discovering true knowledge and progress to a better society.
The media creates hyper reality ­ signs appear more real than reality itself, leaving us unable to distinguish image
from reality. If we can't get a grasp from reality, we lose the power to change society.
We no longer have a set of shared values as the media produce endless stream of images, leaving culture unstable.
Evaluation and Analysis
Postmodernism challenges narratives eg. Functionalism.…read more


Ditsy Ninjaa

Really helpful, thanks! ^_^

lorraine walmsley

thank you so much this is exactly what I need for tomorrow, thank you for your hard work and for sharing 

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